Letters to the Editor June 1, 2019
NOAA radio system could warn of fireDear Editor,
Your article, “Sounding the alarm,” [May 15, 2019] neglects another significant problem with warning sirens. If the wind is strong – very likely in a firestorm – you probably won’t hear it if you’re more than a few miles or so upwind and asleep with all the windows closed, a scenario very common in much of Sonoma County.
The most reliable communication system is radio. I suggested to Senator Mike McGuire and Supervisor Susan Gorin a year ago that we consider making use of the NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR) system (www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr). There’s a transmitter on Sonoma Mountain, WZ2504.
Although it seems to have been designed to warn people of severe weather problems – things like tornadoes in the Midwest – it could almost certainly be employed to warn people of a firestorm. The radios themselves cost in the order of $30. I can imagine a subsidy system for low-income households, similar to what is often done for smoke detectors.
Seems to me that every home should have smoke detectors, a CO2 detector, and a NOAA radio. And local emergency response entities should be able to warn people using the NOAA system.
Susan Gorin and Senator McGuire’s office thanked me for my “good idea,” but I don’t know if it has gone any further. If you agree that this is worth considering, more voices would be helpful.
Professor Emeritus, Computer Science, Sonoma State University
Where is the robust alert system we need?Dear Editor,
It has now been 20 months since the deadly wildfires of October 2017.
As another fire season gets underway, it is still not clear what sort of warning system has been or will be put in place and how residents will be notified. Will it be a shrieking cat, barking dog, calls or loud knocks on the door from a neighbor, an unfamiliar smell or noise that jars us awake, a recently acquired air horn? Or the oft-mentioned, but yet to be realized, implemented, or successfully tested “robust, redundant” alert system promised repeatedly by county supervisors and their staff?
Everyone appreciates the county’s understanding and pledge for more meetings and consultation. But why is it that after close to two years more has not been accomplished to establish a system that will ensure the successful emergency notification and safety of Sonoma County residents?
And what are we to think when a county spokesperson confesses, “We do not have a definite timetable in place for delivering and exercising (evacuation) plans for the most at-risk communities” and Sonoma County Supervisor Susan Gorin at the Kenwood community meeting claims progress in reducing 300 action steps to 60, with most if not all of those apparently having seen little if any action to date?
Kenwood Fire Chief Daren Bellach, who himself is resisting use of the warning sirens residents espouse and other northern California communities have embraced, says he loses sleep at night over the fire threat. Sadly, I am afraid, so again will the rest of us this fire season.
Grateful in Glen EllenDear Editor,
A heartfelt thanks to all of you in the Glen Ellen community! I am so lucky to be part of such a special place.
The community came together through GoFundMe efforts as well as a grassroots fundraiser, and raised upwards of $17,000, enough money that enabled me to finally get on the transplant list at U.C. San Francisco!
Words cannot describe the gratitude my daughter and I feel.
Local control for Oakmont golf courseDear Editor,
This is an extremely important time for the entire Oakmont community and Sonoma Valley. The decision on the sale of the Oakmont Golf Club could redirect the landscape in an uncertain way. Whatever precedent prevails could effect Oakmont for years to come. If the OGC is sold to an outside buyer, we Oakmonters lose local control. Hypothetically, the new owners could decide to sell in two years and we have no options but to watch it happen. However, if Oakmont Village Association purchases the golf course, we maintain our destiny.
The positive uses of OGC for recreation are absolutely clear:
1. There are 63K rounds of golf played/per year – 60 percent public and 40 percent by Oakmont members
2. Driving range and practice facilities (about 100 golfers per day)
3. Quail Inn Restaurant est. 150 per day
4. Wedding and banquets est. 70/year
Where are we now??? Where are we headed??? The two signs in my yard “SAVE OUR COMMUNITY” have a special meaning, that is, to thrive as one OVA.